Jay and Ray are not particularly looking forward to starting school in their new town. But while it can sometimes be a pain to be an identical twin, constantly mistaken for your brother, at least they can take comfort in knowing the other will be there. But then Ray gets sick on their first day, and Jay is left to glumly go alone. At first he enjoys being Jay instead of “one of the Grayson twins”, but then he starts to notice something odd. None of the teachers mention his brother, not even for attendance. Slowly he realizes there’s been a clerical mistake. The school is not expecting twins.
This opportunity is too much to be passed up, and the boys take turns playing sick or hiding at the bus stop so that the entire school is convinced there is only one Grayson boy. But life spent switching back and forth is more complicated that they’d originally thought, and as one day turns into another, they start to realize that while they’d never intended for their charade to last forever, how can they suddenly show up at school as twins without major repercussions?
One thing I liked about the book is how clear the author made it that the boys switching was not just an attempt to get out of school. That was an added benefit, but the larger issue was one of identity and the how each boy struggled with perceiving himself as one half of a unit rather than a unique individual, a perception that was reinforced by past experiences with family and friends.
I recently read another book about twins, called Trading Faces. This novel fares much better in comparison. Where Trading Faces capitalized on dramatic announcements and the cliche of twins being total opposites, this book felt much more realistic once you got past the basic premise. The boys are different, but not incredibly different, the way that real brothers are both similar and different from one another. The anger and jealousy about various friendships felt real too.